With the multitude of vacuums that line the store shelves, it can be difficult and even confusing to figure out which one is right for your short-pile carpet. To best determine the ideal vacuum, we not only need to consider the amenities of the vacuum itself, but we need to explore the specific care and cleaning required for keeping a low pile carpet in good shape.
Know Your Loop Type
Before purchasing a vacuum, it is best to first identify the type of carpet you have. Basically, the term “pile” refers to the length of the carpet fiber. Short-pile carpets consist of three major loop types:
- Cut – short pile fibers bonded into woven backing.
- Loop – loops that are often woven tightly like Berber.
- Cut and loop – this is a combination of types that creates patterns in the carpet.
While loop carpets tend to be more durable under heavy foot traffic, cut loop carpets are generally more forgiving when it comes to vacuuming up daily dirt. Short-pile loop carpets like Berber have a tendency to unravel several loops if snagged. Therefore, when vacuuming Berber, it is best to keep the friction and surface stress at a minimum.
Dirt is The Enemy
Of all the lurking household menaces, dirt is a carpet’s greatest enemy. Just walking around on a dirty carpet can drive the dirt particles deep into the fibers, making it difficult to clean, and potentially damaging the carpet fiber. However, vacuuming frequently can pull the daily dust and dirt off the surface before it has a chance to be ground in deep. Choosing a vacuum that can most effectively remove soil particles and grit should be the primary strategy.
Short-pile carpets in general stay at their cleanest when the vacuum is equipped with a rotating brush or beater bar to physically loosen the dirt which allows it to be suctioned up. Consequently, the effective nature of the rotating beater bar can also cause damage to your low pile carpet if precautions are not taken.
Ideally, the beater bar should barely touch the surface of the carpet. If it is set too high, the vacuum will not be able to pick up the dirt effectively. Alternatively, if it is set too low the beater bar can cause the carpet fibers to fray and fuzz, shortening the life of your carpet.
Berbers Need Extra Care
Due to its fray-ability, Berber carpets should be vacuumed exclusively without a beater bar. Over time, a rotating brush can not only fuzz up the overall surface, but it can also catch and snag loops causing them to unravel. Hence, to keep Berber carpets properly clean, it is necessary to purchase a vacuum cleaner with powerful suction to remove as much dirt as possible.
Choosing The Right Vacuum
There are many considerations that one must weigh when considering a new vacuum purchase. Floor vacuums for general household cleaning fall within two basic types: canister and upright. Furthermore, a shopper typically considers cost, maneuverability, and dust bag or bag-less when making a decision. However, none of these features directly protect the life of a carpet.
- Ability to turn off Beater bar: This allows for flexibility of moving from one floor type to the next. Short-pile carpets generally do best with a vacuum equipped with a beater bar, but shag carpets, long-pile, wood floors, and Berber should all be vacuumed without a spinning brush.
- Adjustable height: enables the machine to be used on a wide variety of carpets. Specifically, it allows user to set the height of the beater bar to the proper level for their carpet.
Ultimately, whether you choose an upright or canister vacuum is a personal preference. Both have models that offer the ability disengage the beater bar, as well as raise and lower the brush level. As long as you choose a vacuum that has both of these attributes, you will be able to properly care for your short-pile carpet, keeping it clean and well maintained for years to come.